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The Reading Life: A Look Back on 2019

This week on The Reading Life: We look back on an extraordinary literary year in Louisiana, highlighting such great books as "We Cast a Shadow," by Maurice Carlos Ruffin; "Solitary," by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George; "The Yellow House," Sarah Broom's National Book Award winner; "All This Could Be Yours," by Jami Attenberg; "The Revisioners," by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton; and many others. We'll also look back at the best visitors, festivals, and we will honor the writers we lost this year.

 Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life this week

Here in New Orleans:

  • The College Book Arts Association Conference takes place in New Orleans, January 2-4, 2020. If you’d like to volunteer, you can also attend the conference for free. Dates available are Thursday, Jan 2nd from 10-8pm at Tulane, Friday, Jan 3rd, from 8am-8pm at Ace Hotel, and Saturday, Jan 4th, from 8am-9pm.  Come see all the beautiful books and learn more about the book arts. On Saturday, the conference is free and open to the public from 1-4pm. To volunteer, write Amelia Bird at For more info, go to
  • If your New Year’s resolution is to get serious about a writing life, check out next semester’s offerings from the New Orleans Writers Workshop. The spring classes are up at
  • And One Book One New Orleans has announced its 2020 selection: “New Orleans Griot: The Tom Dent Reader,” edited by Kalamu ya Salaam and published by UNO Press. Put that at the top of your list for the New Year.

The Reading Life in 2010, Susan Larson was the book editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1988-2009. She has served on the boards of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Public Library. She is the founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Women's National Book Association, which presents the annual Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.. In 2007, she received the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the literary community. She is also the author of The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. If you run into her in a local bookstore or library, she'll be happy to suggest something you should read. She thinks New Orleans is the best literary town in the world, and she reads about a book a day.